A 21st birthday party is a truly special occasion, and there’s plenty of pressures to not only choose appropriate 21st birthday gifts, but to come up with creative themes to celebrate the big day. Fortunately there are many ways to mark the event whatever your tastes or your budget.
One of the most fun solutions is to theme your party around what was happening 21 years ago. You can get hold of replica newspapers from the day the party’s recipient was born and find out exactly what happened on the momentous day; as well as being handy research; these make memorable 21st birthday gifts.
If you want to keep it more general, then for 1987, some of the events included the hurricane which Michael Fish failed to predict, the Black Monday stock market crash, the Spycatcher controversy, Lester Piggot going to jail on tax evasion charges and Sylvester McCoy becoming the seventh Dr Who. DVDs of the year’s major news events also make good 21st birthday gifts.
1988 was the year of Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards in the Calgary Winter Olympics, the ‘Crazy Gang’ of Wimbledon pulling off a shock upset against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final, Ben Johnson’s disgrace in the Seoul Olympics, the first ever Red Nose Day, and the scandal when Edwina Currie suggested most British eggs were infected with salmonella. You could even host an egg-themed party with exotic omelettes, meringues for desert and egg nog to drink. Believe it or not, there are even ‘egged’ paintings which make great party pieces or 21st birthday gifts.
Another twist on this is to ask guests to come as characters from popular films of the time. For 1987 this could include Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction (though birthday cake might be safer than boiling a bunny!), Lethal Weapon, Wall Street (which will cut down the lunch bill). And who could forget Dirty Dancing? If the birthday girl loves that movie, she won’t get many cuter 21st birthday gifts than the new ‘Dirty Dancing in Your Pocket’ talking Keyring, complete with six classic quotes.
1988’s blockbusters included Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big, Twins, Beetlejuice, Cocktail and Die Hard. These movies are often available as special edition DVDs which you could watch at the party or use if you’re still stuck for ideas for 21st birthday gifts.
You could even challenge guests to dress as people from TV shows which began in the year the birthday celebrant was born. 1987 saw the first appearance of The Simpsons (albeit as a short cartoon in the Tracy Ullman Show), Inspector Morse, Going Live, Beadles About, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Knightmare. Shows making their debuts in 1988 included Home and Away, The Wonder Years, Red Dwarf and Roseanne. Many of these shows are coming out as DVD box sets which make 21st birthday gifts that will keep giving pleasure for months.
You can also choose music from the relevant year to add to the nostalgia theme. 1987’s major releases included Appetite for Destruction by Guns ‘N Roses, INXS’s Kick, Wet Wet Wet’s Popped in Souled Out, Prince’s Sign O’ The Times and The Joshua Tree by U2. It was also the year Kylie began her pop career and Tiffany sang I Think we’re Alone Now.
If you’re doing a 1987 music theme, remember this is the year Rick Astley hit the airwaves with Never Gonna Give You Up, so you really should make sure at least one of the 21st birthday gifts involves the recipient being Rick-rolled!
Classic albums of 1988 included Surfer Rosa by The Pixies, Eric Clapton’s Crossroads, Kylie Minogue’s debut album Kylie, Hanging Tough by New Kids on the Block, U2’s Rattle and Hum. It was also the year of big hits including Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy and Phil Collins’ A Groovy Kind Of Love. As well as using them for the party, you include collections of this classic music among the 21st birthday gifts.
For video game lovers, why not organise a retro gaming party. Sure, most guys into gaming want to see a Playstation 3 or Xbox among their 21st birthday gifts, but you’re sure to have fun if you can track down copies of games released in the year of the birthday boy or girl’s birth. For 1987, that includes groundbreaking beat-em-up Streetfighter, fantasy adventure game The Legend of Zelda, and the first instalment of the Double Dragon series. For 1988, look out for the first edition of John Madden’s Football, the platform classic MegaMan II and the role playing game Phantasy Star.
Fountain of Youth
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“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss, from ‘Happy Birthday to You!’
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